Hamlet’s relentless Mills grabs last minute equaliser

football match

It was all over, dead and buried with a funeral parade. But nobody told Danny Mills.

A 91st minute equaliser from Dulwich Hamlets’ relentless striker snatched a point at right at the death from a travelling Tonbridge Angels side that had nearly held on.

But for the Dulwich faithful it felt far sweeter than a point at home, it was something to cheer about in what’s been a horrid run for the South Londoners.

Hamlet had not won since late February, so the pressure was on Gavin Rose’s side to pick up some results.

While the playoffs seem tantalisingly out of reach for Dulwich, the visitors arrived still fighting to keep themselves in the league; sitting 16th at kick off and certainly not out of the battle and on the back of a home loss to Slough.

Hamlet looked like the better side for the first 20. Sometimes it’s hard to work out exactly what’s going wrong here.

The positive build-up was there, the players looked up for it, but when it gets into the final third there’s always something missing. McQueen was, like most weeks, a livewire but with little service he found things difficult.

This week, Danny Mills was in town. Whether it was set pieces, playing the hold-up role, or flick-ons, he was great throughout the first half.

Some of the elaborate headers and flicks, most people would struggle to do with their feet.

He also had to get dirty, constantly tussling with any of the Tonbridge back four who would take him on. Most of the time this was Sonny Miles, the Angels’ captain, who was sick of him by the second half.

But football is fickle, it doesn’t care. It doesn’t care who you are, what you’ve done or how you’ve been playing.

In the blink of an eye, from what looked like an unthreatening attack the ball was fizzed in from the left by Smith-Joseph and brushed home by Ibraham Olutade from a few yards out.

Like that, Dulwich were again behind, a position from which they have yet to win from this season.

This sucker punch had an obvious effect on Hamlet and the next 10 were a real struggle. Passes going astray, lots of pointing and shouting, heads were gone.

It was all about getting in for half time without conceding again, something they just about managed.

football match

At the start of the second half the Dulwich technical area was full. Assistant Junior Kadi was bellowing orders. The calmness was gone and this was clearly where the line in the sand had been drawn; they weren’t happy.

But then again, who would be with their current form. Rose leaned up against the dugout, hands on head looking as if he didn’t have anything else, bereft of ideas. If I’m being honest, he looked defeated.

November’s manager of the month award seems like a distant memory. After a clear handball was turned away by referee Isaac Searle, the collective coaching staff nearly burst.

Things were about to get worse, like some twisted joke three minutes later Ronnie Vint was shown a straight red for pulling down Smith-Joseph who was clean through on goal.

The subsequent free kick did not find the net but the damage had been done.

At this point Rose threw everyone forward.

Angels nearly finished the game and probably should have been out of sight. Most notably a great run from Ricky Modeste down the right and chipping the ball to an undermanned Dulwich back post but somehow Olutade couldn’t get his second.

Tornbridge had three or four good opportunities to finish the game but lacked composure.

football match

But you have to give this Dulwich side credit. They kept battling, bashing and running until the very last, throwing everything and everyone forward.

Mills had a great headed effort spectacularly saved by Henly in the Tonbridge net, but he kept coming. The 30-year-old had been toiling all day. Tussle after tussle with little to show for it.

The plans had gone out the window and it was route one football. He just kept going, jumping for 50/50s and generally being a nuisance.

Tyrone Sterling found himself a pocket of space on the left, half way into opposition territory and drifted in a brilliant, tempting ball, standing it up at the back post.

And there was Mills, like a lighthouse alone in the storm, he lit up Champion Hill. You could tell they needed that. Champion Hill erupted. Mills leaping into the air, fist pumping to the jubilant home fans.

The last three minutes were quite frankly, ridiculous. Both teams ignored their defensive duties and went all in for the win. But no one could grab a late winner and it finished one all.

It’s hard to spin this positively, drawing at home to a side battling relegation won’t have filled Rose with confidence.

But that late goal felt big, a slice of luck Hamlet have been missing, something going their way after what’s been an awful few months.

They travel to Chippenham next, who are just two places above them, Hamlet will be hoping to carry the late goal’s momentum with them.